The Victorian road map out of lockdown has been controversial – while many Victorians have praised the Andrews government for taking stringent precautions to squash the spread of coronavirus, others have criticised the government for being too strict.

Some members of the hospitality industry – one of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns – have raised concerns about current road map to reopening. Several industry leaders, including Chris Lucas, have argued that the plan isn’t financially viable for metro Melbourne businesses: they say outdoor dining won’t be profitable, and the requirement for 14 consecutive days of zero new cases before permitting indoor seating is unnecessarily stringent.

Now, two plans have been submitted to the state government outlining how hospitality could open up in metro Melbourne earlier. The petitioners say the plans are Covid-safe and more financially viable. One plan, developed by the Restaurant & Catering Association (RCA) industry body, is based on the operating model that has been implemented in Queensland for the past four months, according to The Age. The other, called Gold Standard, was developed in collaboration with the Australian Hotels Association; over 30 industry leaders including Frank Van Haandel, Karen Martini and Andrew McConnell; and in consultation with the RCA, with the Gold Standard plan designed to work on top of the RCA’s plan, adding an extra layer of precautions.

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Their goal is to see hospitality venues opening earlier than the current road map specifies, but with what they believe are added Covid-safe measures in place.

“We want to create a ‘Gold Standard’ to make venues as safe as possible to enable businesses to reopen on Monday October 19,” explains organiser Julian Gerner. “We’re hoping the government will therefore allow venues to restart and restock in order to take advantage of the AFL grand final long weekend. It could be the windfall that saves both jobs and businesses.”

Some of these measures include using technology such as 1Breadcrumb for contact tracing, deep-cleaning and contactless ordering via smartphones.

RCA CEO Wes Lambert told The Age he believes what has been done in Queensland could be done in metro Melbourne: “We are calling on the government of Victoria to do what the government of Queensland has done and adopt this industry plan as the benchmark businesses need to meet.”